Mark and Donna

Sheep farmers


Communication and patience: the recipe to farm safety success

Despite coming from two different worlds, Euroa sheep farmer Mark and IT expert-turned farmer, Donna share a common love for the beauty and peace that comes with living and working on the farm.

During 20 years of sheep farming, Mark has accumulated a wealth of knowledge and experience, but he also knows that working alone comes with risks, so together Mark and Donna have put safety measures in place.

"A good mate of mine had his pelvis crushed behind a gate and I've split a bone in my hand with a drill. People need to remember that you can be out of action from breaking your leg or your pelvis, but you can also be out of action if you break your finger." says Mark.

"The thing for me is that safety is all about prevention."


"If I'm hurt, the work doesn't get done. I can't afford to get hurt, so sometimes I've just got to step back and say, all right, that job can wait. It’s still got to be done, but it can wait until we've got a safety plan."

While Mark has lived on the farm his whole life, Donna has recently transitioned to working on the farm.

"I love the farm, it's just wonderful, but there have been challenges in respect to learning things and thinking about basic safety. But I'm very conscious that it is a dangerous place, and that Mark works on his own."

"The most important thing that Mark can do before he walks out the door every single day is to tell me where he's going and what he’s going to be doing," adds Donna.

"Mark and I both have 'Find My iPhone' so that when Mark is out on the farm and due home I can check where he is and see if he is on his way. If he hasn't moved in a while, I can send him a text or I can send a neighbour out to check on him if I'm away from home."

"Working alone on the farm is no different to going into the bush. You need to ask the person questions. 'Where are you going? What are you doing while you're there? And what time do you think you'll be back?'," says Donna.

One aspect of farming that Donna has noted is that if you're doing something only once a year, you need to take some time to think it through.

"If you're only doing something infrequently, it's probably worth running a mental checklist before you start that day and consider what you have forgotten," says Donna.

"Ask yourself every single time, 'what could possibly go wrong?'.


"In a lot of ways, that's one of the reasons why I use contractors to do some jobs, because it is a specialised task. I do it once a year. They do it every day so, they're the professional expert. I understand everything they're doing and why they’re doing it and they’ll do it to my specifications, but they’re the expert in that case." adds Mark.

While Mark's attitude and understanding about the importance of safety hasn't changed over time, it has evolved, particularly with the expansion of his operations and having contractors work on his farm.

"You don't always think of your own safety as much as you do others, when we should. If I've got somebody here, I want them to leave safely and get home."


The proactive and considered approach Mark and Donna take to safety is ultimately what allows them to enjoy farming as much as they do. They live with the comfort of having put in place the best practices possible to keep themselves and others safe, and they hope that the next generation of farmers are encouraged to do the same.

"There's a whole new generation of farmers that are coming through. There's a real opportunity to instill this at the ground level, that's where I think the focus has to be. The next generation of farmers need to think safety and speak up." adds Mark.

Mark and Donna shared their story as part of WorkSafe Victoria's 'It's never you, until it is' campaign, which promotes farm safety and highlights that injuries and death on farms are preventable.

Working alone is a contributing factor in the majority of farm workplace deaths.

Find strategies to stay safe while working alone